With apologies to such reality TV grads as Toure’, Chris Harvard and uh, Evander Holyfield, perhaps Peter Manfredo was a poor choice to face the ageless Joe Calzaghe in Cardiff last night. Then again, perhaps the promoter didn’t have Peter McNeely’s phone number. From the Independent’s Alan Hubbard.
The 35-year-old Calzaghe completed his 20th defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title, extending his unbeaten record to 43 fights in fourteen years with a display which left the out-of-depth Manfredo looking more pretender than contender. Manfredo, who was runner up in the US TV boxing series found the gulf between contender and champion too big to bridge when in truth he was little more than a willing tyro, boosted by his mentor, Ray Leonard, sugaring the publicity pill.
Calzaghe was able to dictate the pace and pick his punches, roared on by the biggest crowd ever assembled for an indoor promotion – the official attendance was 35,018. They may have come for a contest but had to be content with a Celtic celebration of Calzaghe’s career.
Sporting new trimmings of a moustache and goatee beard, Calzaghe was bigger in every department than the man who called himself “the Italian warrior”, comfortably winning the first two rounds against an opponent who had no defence to speak of. It was easy to see why Manfredo has a flattened nose as it was such an easy target for Calzaghe’s southpaw jab.
The end came after one minute thirty seconds of the third round when, pinned to the ropes, Manfredo was on the receiving end of 30 to 40 unanswered punches, albeit most of them landing on his arms and shoulders. Nonetheless, the referee, Terry O’Connor, decided to call a halt to this ruthless one-way traffic when the ending may have been a tad premature but the result would have been inevitable and infinitely more painful for Manfredo had he continued. As Calzaghe went to all four corners of the ring to blow kisses to the crowd, the American was consoled by his father, Peter. Harsh reality indeed.